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Traveling with Pets

They're furry, they're friendly - they're absolutely lovable. Family pets are often a big part of the family, and sometimes it's hard to leave those adorable rascals behind when you leave town. With these simple tips, your pet won't have to miss out on one fun moment of the family's big vacation!

GET A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH

SEEING-EYE DOGS
If you are a disabled person traveling with a seeing-eye dog, notify your destination hosts and airline ahead of time.
Before you take your beloved pet anywhere, take him to the vet for an overall checkup, and ask for the number of an associate in the area where you will be staying. A few weeks before you depart, get your pet a physical, complete with vaccinations necessary for the area to which you are traveling. A direct, uncrowded flight is best (an evening flight if the weather is warm), but the vet can also give you tranquilizers to calm your pet for the long journey. If you're unsure whether your pet is up for the trip - ask. Although a cross-country flight may be no problem for you, a pet may suffer greatly while left in a hot baggage area. Don't wait to find out that Fido couldn't handle the hike up the mountain - or even the plane journey there.

Most airline and state officials mandate a clean bill of health in the form of a health certificate dated within 10 days prior to travel before your pet can fly with you. And even if he is in tip-top shape, traveling abroad sometimes assumes an automatic quarantine upon arrival for your pet whether or not there is an outbreak of a disease (Hawaii does, so contact your travel agent for assistance in this matter).

For U.S. territories and foreign countries, contact the appropriate embassy, governmental agency or consulate at least one month in advance before making arrangements for your pet. Moreover, some states require certain pets to have entry permits issued by the destination state's regulatory agency, and may request to view the interstate health certificate in advance of issuing the permit. Some even limit the time during which the entry permit is valid.

PET FRIENDLY
VACATION SPOTS
1. Florida
2. California
3. France
4. Colorado
5. Disney World (tie)
National Parks
Source: ASTA-member travel agents survey
PAPERS FOR YOUR POOCH
Always keep an ID collar with your name and phone number on your pet, and always travel with favorite toys, proof of vaccination and proper licenses. Bring color photos of your pet, as well, in the unfortunate event he gets lost.

PETS ON PLANES
Because airlines limit the number of pets that can be on board at once, have your travel agent notify the airline of your pet when your reservation is made. Also ask for the allowable dimensions of your pet carrier. Regulations state that dogs and cats must be at least eight weeks old and fully-weaned before flying. If your pet is pregnant or in heat, do not subject it to air travel. Written instructions for food and water must accompany any shipped pet regardless of the amount of time they are scheduled to spend in transit. Unless your vet signs a certificate otherwise, your pet may not be exposed to temperatures less than 45 degrees.

If your pet is less than 15 pounds and you are on a domestic flight, you may be able to fit a small, airline-approved kennel (check with your travel agent) under the seat in front of you. Out of respect for the person sitting next to you, inform passengers that you've brought your pet along so they may switch seats with someone else if they suffer from pet allergies. Have paper towels and a scooper on hand for any inevitable accidents that may occur. On international flights, larger animals can be shipped (for a fee) in the forward cargo bins, which are climate-controlled. Contact your travel agent or the airline for specific information on fees and requirements.

TRAVELING 'KENNEL' CLASS
One thing you should not underestimate is the importance of a quality travel kennel, no matter if you're traveling by bus, car, plane or train. Let your pet eat and sleep there before you leave, and throw an old sock - worn by you - in as well so he may accustom himself to the kennel in time for travel. Exercise, feed and give water to your pet before you leave, and place a dish for food and one for water inside the kennel. If you're shipping your pet, write the words "LIVE ANIMAL" all over the crate with arrows pointing in the upright direction, and put your name, phone number and address on a well-fastened label. Secure but don't lock the crate so airline personnel can access it if necessary. Make certain enough air is getting in. Check with your travel agent or call your airline and find out if there is an additional cost for your pet to travel with you.

ON THE ROAD WITH FIDO
Be careful if you're driving to your destination. Countless pets die each year from heatstroke after being left alone in hot cars for even a few moments. As a general rule, if you leave your car, your pet should leave, as well. If you park, make sure it's in a shaded area to keep the car cool. For safety's sake, check that your car's air conditioning is functioning before taking a long trip on a hot day. Never let your animal jump around or hang out the window - it's dangerous for both you and him.

A NOTE ABOUT BIRDS, REPTILES AND SMALL ANIMALS
Travel is not recommended for smaller animals and birds because of the stress it causes them. Reptiles are especially discouraged because of their specialized requirements.
A strong, mesh crate (the bottom lined by towels) with plenty of food and water is advised, with enough room so your pet can stand, turn and lie down. But exercise is necessary - stop frequently at rest stops for water and exercise, keeping a leash on your pet at all times. If your pet is unaccustomed to car trips, increase his time in the car before you take him on vacation. One piece of sugar candy - not chocolate - before hitting the road may quell motion sickness. Although you do want to feed your pet at least four hours before air travel, leave a window of six hours before a car trip during which your pet is not eating. If he's overly fussy, it may be best to rethink bringing him along.

YOUR PETS AND HOTELS
Ask you travel agent to call ahead to make sure your hotel or motel allows pets. Or, for a list of pet-friendly lodgings, call the Convention and Visitors Bureau at your destination. Once there, clean up after your pet - don't abuse the privilege. Likewise, pack a supply of plastic bags to make this chore easier. Request a room at the end of the hall so other guests aren't bothered by the possible noise.

So plan ahead, bring the right supplies and rely on these Tips on Traveling With Pets to ensure that you and your pet have a safe and enjoyable trip. With the helpful hints we have listed here, your pet can be the perfect addition to a perfect vacation.

For additional information, visit these Web sites:

Traveling with Pets (Univ. of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine)

 

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